Conard-Pyle Roses Sold to Ball Horticultural Co.

Conard-Pyle's Steve Hutton, CEO.

Through a novel approach to acquisitions, the West Grove grower of famous Peace, Knock Out and Drift roses carefully handpicked the new buyer it would pass on the future of its prized plants to.

In a recent Greenhouse Management interview, Conard-Pyle CEO Steven Hutton shared the inside scoop on concluding a three-generation family business and a 100-year legacy of excellence in landscape roses by selling the business to Ball Horticultural Co. effective Oct. 1.

A rose breeder at Conrad Pyle.--via Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections.
A rose breeder at Conrad Pyle.–via Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections.

Hutton enlisted an investment banker to pitch the Conard-Pyle proposal to “close to 20 different prospective buyers that I selected as firms from around the world that I thought had the potential to be interested and be potentially a good steward for the Conard-Pyle company,” he said in the article. “That process took about 60 to 75 days. The list was pretty substantial at the beginning, but it got smaller and smaller as the process got further toward its conclusion. There’s only one Ball in this industry and worldwide, and I’ve known them from a distance for essentially my whole career. They actually used to be in the rose business when I first started in the late ’70s, so we did overlap in the beginning, and now we overlap at the end.”

Conard-PyleThe clincher, Hutton said, was not the just the price but how the buyer fit with the Chester County company’s culture, strategy and business ethics.

“They were clear in their proposal that they intended to keep our employees, our two locations, our brands, that they will continue to work with third-party breeders that we’ve worked with a number of years, in one case for over eight decades,” he added. “So all of that was important.”

And looking ahead, Ball offers a bounty of opportunities for the folks at Conard-Pyle.

“Ball is a phenomenally successful, phenomenally progressive, deeply talented company,” Hutton said. “We’ll be playing on a bigger stage. We don’t have operations on six different continents. Ball does. It’s a bigger, deeper company, and I haven’t met an individual associated with Ball so far that I’m not proud to be a colleague of.”

Ball intends to run Conard-Pyle as a standalone business with access to its global support and resources, particularly technology, and Hutton will help during the transition for up to two years.

Read much more about the unique handoff and the future of Conard-Pyle in Greenhouse Management here, and check out previous VISTA Today coverage of the local company’s accolades here.

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